David Anderson, VC and supply chain master:

“Billy is perhaps best known for his Oxi Clean commercials, where one softball size ball of detergent, chucked into your washing machine and forgotten, will do 25 loads of laundry. Simple messages, great customer testimonials and products that really worked were Billy’s forte. He rejected perhaps 99% of the hundreds of inventors/companies that approached him, choosing only those products that met his three key metrics. And he and his inventors made millions in the process…

“Address clear customer needs: Billy wanted products that anyone could use, not just a select market segment–who does not have dirty clothes (Oxi Clean)? Needs a knife to cook (Samurai Shark)? Want shiny clean floors (Orange Glo)? or, my favorite, who has ever wished they could permanently cement their mother (or father)-in-law to a chair (mighty putty)?

“Have believable customer testimonials: Billy did not use actors, but recruited users who were true believers. Who could not like the housewives who had orgasms over their newly waxed floors?”

(Italics mark my emphasis.)

That’s a great set of requirements for picking startups: simple messages, great customer testimonials, and products that really work — that anyone can use. (You can also take the opposite approach on the “products that anyone can use” requirement.)

Bonus: Also see David’s post on Hiring the Right Sales Guy:

“So what’s the best type of sales guy for a start up? To be honest, none of the above. The founders are the best sales guys, supported by the correct marketing and sales support technology, processes and people. They know their solutions and vision best and should be the one who lead the charge in the marketplace.

Instead of hiring a very expensive super sales guy, for example, use your board members to get introductions at target customers. That’s a prime role for board members and should be a key criteria in choosing them. Want C-Level introductions? Try cold calling at 8am in the morning when the C-levels get in early to check their emails. Need a group of specialists to sell the solution?  Assemble the team from current employees to make the pitch. Everyone should be a sales person in a start up.”

This is consistent with Steve Blank’s advice that founders should be on the customer development team and, if necessary, complemented by a ‘sales closer’.

Topics Customer Development · Investing

One Comment · Show

  • Jim Taylor

    Keep it simple. Focus on the basic problem and solution that applies to everyone.

    That is something I am constantly reminding myself through the entire start up process, especially with product features.

    If a feature doesn’t work, don’t force it… Just, get rid of it…